Survival statistics for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) | Cancer Research UK
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A quick guide to what's on this page

Statistics and outlook for acute myeloid leukaemia

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Doctors call this your prognosis. The likely outcome with AML depends on several things, including how advanced the leukaemia is when you are diagnosed, the type of AML you have, and how well it responds to chemotherapy.

The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of Cancer Research UK's patient information. They are intended as a general guide only. For the more complete picture in your case, you need to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wants to read this type of information. If you think you would like to have this information, you can read further down the page. 

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your leukaemia is unique. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.


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About the information on this page

This page has quite detailed information about the survival rates for different stages of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).  People ask us for this information but not everyone diagnosed with cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can always come back to it later.

The statistics here are intended as a general guide and can't tell you what is likely to happen in your individual case.


Cancer statistics in general

The cancer statistics section has information about the different types of cancer statistics. You may find it helpful to read this before you read the information below, unless you are very familiar with medical statistics.

Remember that statistics are averages based on large numbers of people. They cannot predict exactly what will happen to you. No two people are exactly alike. How well treatment works will vary from one person to another.

You should feel free to ask about your outlook, but even your doctor cannot tell you exactly what will happen. You may hear your doctor use the terms 5 year survival or 10 year survival. This doesn't mean that you will only live 5 or 10 years. It relates to the number of people in research who are still alive 5 or 10 years after diagnosis. Doctors follow what happens to people for this long in leukaemia research studies. Then they can compare the results of different kinds of treatment.


Acute leukaemia statistics in general

The outcome of treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia depends on several different factors. You need to talk this through with your own specialist. The factors include

  • Your type of leukaemia
  • How advanced it is when you are diagnosed
  • How well it responds to chemotherapy treatment

The outcome also depends on whether you had leukaemia that changed (transformed) from a chronic form into an acute form. It can be more difficult to treat leukaemia that has transformed.

It may also be harder to treat a leukaemia that has developed after treatment for another cancer. This is called a secondary leukaemia. It means that you developed leukaemia after earlier chemotherapy damaged your bone marrow cells. This is rare, but it can happen. Secondary leukaemia usually develops within 10 years of treatment for the first cancer.

Your doctors may be able to get your leukaemia into remission for a few years, even if they can’t cure it completely. Remission is when the leukaemia is not active and the doctors cannot detect it with scans or blood samples. If AML comes back after initial treatment it is called relapsed leukaemia. With relapsed AML, it is sometimes possible to get rid of all signs of the leukaemia again (a second remission) with more chemotherapy.

Please note that there are no UK national statistics available for overall survival of AML, or for different stages of AML or treatments that people have had. The statistics we present here are from  people diagnosed with AML in England. They come from the National Cancer Intelligence Network. We give statistics because people ask us for them. But they are only intended as a general guide and can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.


Outlook for AML

This section deals with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Your age when you were diagnosed plays a big part in your likely outcome. Generally, the younger you are, the more likely your treatment is to work well. 

This is partly because leukaemia behaves in different ways in different people. And partly because younger people are better able to cope physically with the very intensive treatments that are more likely to cure leukaemia. Specialists and researchers are working on ways of adapting the very intensive treatments so they are also suitable for older people.

These survival statistics are for AML diagnosed in England between 2006 and 2012. They come from the National Cancer Intelligence Network.

Overall, of all those with AML, around 27 out of 100 people (27%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. This is for all ages. Younger people tend to do much better than older people. 

  • In those aged 14 or younger, around 66 out of 100 people (66%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • In those aged between 15 and 24, around 60 out of 100 people (60%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis
  • In those aged between 25 and 64, almost 40 out of 100 people (40%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • In those aged 65 or older, around 5 out of 100 people (5%) will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis 

Factors that affect outcome

We know that some things can affect the outcome of disease and they are called prognostic factors. There are some prognostic factors for AML and we know that it is harder to treat if

  • You are older (over 60)
  • Your white blood cell count is very high when you are diagnosed
  • Your AML developed from a condition called myelodysplasia or because you had treatment for another cancer
  • You have particular genetic changes (mutations) in the leukaemia cells
  • It takes more than 2 cycles of chemotherapy to get your leukaemia under control

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. For example, the same type of leukaemia can grow at different rates in different people.

Statistics are not detailed enough to tell us about the different treatments people may have had. They also don't tells us how that treatment may have affected their outlook. As mentioned above many individual factors determine your treatment and prognosis.

Remember that survival statistics are for people who had treatment a number of years ago. Treatments improve over time, so people having treatment now may have a better outlook.


Clinical trials

Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve the outlook for people in the future. There is information about clinical trials in the trials and research section.

Children's impact statement - Leukaemia


More detailed statistics

If you would like to read more about survival rates and other statistics for Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), go to our CancerStats page: 


For more information

Find out about

Cancer statistics

Statistics about AML

About AML

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Updated: 11 June 2015